Monday, March 30, 2009

Use Collage to Keep an Art Journal

Postcards from
the Edge,
Valli McDougle

col-lage (ke-lazh’) n. An artistic composition of objects and materials pasted on a surface [Gk. holla glue]

Recently I went to a party at my
friend, Valli McDougle’s place. Valli, our host, came to the first

Art Camp for Women in 2007 and is an extraordinary water media artist. Her home is new and luxury of luxuries, she has TWO art studios, one upstairs and one downstairs. And she has acres of wall space to hang her art.

Right now she is taking a series of courses on collage technique and at the end of the evening she and I were huddled in the studio looking at her latest pieces. Collage to die for. Here are pictures of two of her collages.Collage fits right in with my effort to keep an art journal and also is an accurate depiction of how my life is structured. In this day and age we are not a people of long continuums and big families. That era has passed. In my life I have patches and pieces of many different categories or domains of life. My income is from several different sources and endeavors. My social life has different age groups and different interest groups. Even my health regime has several different expressions, run club with the kids, gym with my grown daughter, nutrition and cleansing with a peer, household veggie garden and kitchen organization with my husband.Likewise, my creativity shows up in blurts of expression, rather than a long string of watercolors or photographs or years of dance.

Bridge to Nowhere, Valli McDougle

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Organize to Keep an Art Journal

One way to encourage yourself when setting out to keep an art journal is to have an easily accessible set of supplies.

I often find myself with time to work on a page only to arrive at an art table buried deep in stacks of magazines, or piles of pens or the remains of the last kid day. OR if the art table is cleared (miracles of miracles) and I get to work on my art journal, I spend half the time trying to locate a specific paint, or picture or rubber stamp. I have reorganized any number of times and still find that I am not organized.

Just recently I came across a brilliant book by Gwen Diehn, she has more than one book out, but this one is The Decorated Page, Journals, Scrapbooks & Albums Made Simply Beautiful. (See under Favorites in the sidebar.) Among other great tips, techniques and illustrations, the author has come up with an organization system that works really well.

She has:
1. Everyday Supply Kit
2. Supply Kit for Customizing Books and Preparing Pages
3. Travel Supply Kit.

In the book she lists what she keeps in her kits, and these lists can be easily modified for your own needs. She is so efficient that this system seems to work whether you have a large studio or if you work on the kitchen counter after the kids are in bed.

In the same section of the book she also clearly tells you how to set up a workstation. The idea is that when you walk up to your art table or when you have a moment to work on an altered journal, the supplies are waiting right there all in one place for your use and your valuable time is spent creating, not searching.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Keep An Art Journal - the Green Way Part III

Keep an
Art Journal – the Green Way Part III

This week is spring break and I was looking for a project for the kids that would be simple enough for a ten year old and not break the bank. So I was looking around for ways to use the recycle bin for the actual art pieces, not just the organization and supplies.

It doesn’t hurt if the project also helps them to learn to be more conscious of the environment.

With all of that in mind I opened up the latest edition of my favorite magazine, Cloth, Paper, Scissors and there right in the front was an article for making the lowly grocery sack into fancy clutch purses! Right now, our ten-year-old girl is making the transition from playing dress up to fashionista - not that big of a transition in reality so the fancy purses looked like a great project.

With the magazine propped up in front of me I followed the instructions diligently. I used up oddly mixed paint, left over Christmas ribbon, odd buttons and the grocery sacks! With a few variations and personal touches I soon had a glitzy little purse. (see below) But really, am I the type to use a glitzy little purse?

To keep an Art Journal (remember?)

Here is where creativity intervenes! I then made my laminated material a little thicker by using more bags and proceeded to put together a killer art journal cover! The grocery sack format fits one of the standard Moleskine journals just right!

I’m not sure of the durability and efficiency of my art pieces. Will the paint chip or crack? Will the plastic split? Will sewing through the paint cause leaks or running paint? Today I will find out. I will fool around with different sizes and uses. The 7 year old (male) wants a camouflage colored glasses case. Maybe I could make cell phone pouches, business card holders, and maybe a reusable coffee cup sleeve.

To make a long story short – I am having a great time and the closet space previously used for recycling grocery sacks has diminished to the point I may need to go to the store.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Keep An Art Journal - the Green Way Part II

Click on image to enlarge.

Grocery Sack Art

The pervasive plastic grocery sack is becoming an obsession with me. I have reusable grocery sacks in each car and even carry one clipped to my purse – and we still accumulate the obsequious plastic sacks by the dozens! To find a fun and creative use for them makes my heart sing.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Keep An Art Journal - the Green Way

Posted by PicasaRecycle & Re-use to keep an Art Journal:
Playing in the art world could be a costly habit, especially to keep an art journal,but over time I have developed a strategy;

Spend big money on brushes, paper, paint and classes,
Save everywhere else.

In keeping with this strategy I haunt the thrift stores, rummage through the recycling bin and clip coupons from the Sunday paper. Here are my favorites:

  • Costco Salad boxes are sturdy clear plastic with lids and the Roma Tomato containers are a long slim tray once the lid is cut off. Both make great storage bins.
  • Sometimes Costco also has great deals on pens, papers and storage drawers.
  • Lettuce boxes from other grocery stores are smaller, but also have nice lids and make good storage containers for smaller things like glue sticks or ephemera
  • Large Cottage cheese and Yogurt Cartons – good for holding brushes and water and have many other uses.
  • Large Laundry jug lids and Small yogurt cups – perfect small paint & glue containers.
  • Sleeves for to-go hot drinks – for texture and patterns.
  • Gift wrap that is no longer good enough for presents (especially tissue).

Thrift stores & Garage Sales:
  • Micro-wave muffin ‘tins’ 6 cup indentations great for several paint colors and mixing for a project – one of my best finds, and there are always one or two hidden in the cookware section.
  • Lazy Susans, large and small, good way to keep pens, brushes, punches, scissors and rulers handy.
  • Silk ties for small fabric projects.
  • Dress patterns for collage and art dolls.
  • Blank books - cheap way to start to keep an art journal
  • Always watch for paint brushes.
  • Discarded rug kits, the netting/webbing make great patterns for rubbing or spraying or even adding to a collage.

Sales & Sunday Paper Coupons - I use these when I run out of something essential and more expensive, like acrylic matte medium or gel medium or journals!
  • Michael’s, Jo-Anne’s and Hobby Lobby – most Sundays these Stores have a 40% – 50% off coupon in their advertisements
  • Annual clearance sales at the fancier stores, Meininger’s had a great sale last September, and after the December Holidays, many stores are cleaning up, for space and tax purposes. College bookstores often have a summer sale.
Auctions - boom or bust – you never know - look up auctions for your state on Google when you have time for a weekend jaunt.

The fact remains that I spend a lot of money to keep an art journal, especially on art supplies. I am satisfied though, that I could spend much more if I didn’t watch for bargains and savings. Keep your eyes open!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Altered Journals

Altered art is also one of my passions. I work on old books as the base and as a rabid-reader I found I have a huge resistance to mangling books, even old books, even stupid romance books, even books that had millions of copies printed and no one would ever, ever read twice…it took months to get over it. Finally I found an old book, not old as in antique, but old as in used. It was a book with three stories by the same author under one cover, I had read all the stories, cheesy romances, and knew that reading them the first time had been a waste of time, reading them a second time was out of the question. Besides, it cost a quarter at the second-hand store.

So screwing up my courage, I altered the cover first. It is so gorgeous with bronzed ribbon and a Van Gogh postcard. Then I find that it is more practical to do the cover last – ah well. The theme of that first book is "Girlfriends" and I have everything in it from a small bottle of Bailey’s Creme to a Fairy Godmother. When I made it I had in mind sending it to a friend when I found a friend that needed cheering up…and when that friend was cheered up and moving along well, she too, would send the book along to a friend that was down. Well Good idea – right? The book has been sitting here, waiting for the final letter explaining how to pass it on, for about two years now. I have decided to get it in the mail this week. I have a friend in need and this will help in my New Decluttering Plan.

Now that I think of it, these altered books also are a another way to keep an art journal. I call my work altered journals. The one above includes poems, songs, grandmothers, cats, and a winter’s worth of warming thoughts. The final letter that needs to go in will have an explanation of the use of the book as well as a place to write in the name of the sender and recipient, with a date. There are places where the recipient could add some art, wish I had left more room for that…maybe I can glue in another pocket…hmm... see it never ends!
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Art Journaling

Art (art) n. 1. The ability of man to arrange or adapt natural things or conditions to his own uses. 2. The creation of works that are, in form, content, and execution, esthetically pleasing and meaningful, as in music, painting, sculpture, literature, architecture, dance, etc. 3. The principles and techniques governing the creation of such works. 4. The works so created, esp. paintings, drawings, and sculpture. 5. Skilled workmanship; craft. 6. Any skill, craft, trade or profession: the art of cooking: a teacher’s art. 7. Printing Any illustrative or decorative material that accompanies the text….

Jour-nal (jur’ nel) n. 1. A record of daily occurrences, as a diary. 2. A record of the proceedings of a legislature, club etc. 3. A daily newspaper. 4. Any periodical or magazine. 5. Naut. A logbook

Diary (di’ e-ree) n. pl. –ries 1. A written, daily record of the writer’s experiences, feelings, activities, etc. 2. A book for keeping such a record. [diarium >L dies a day]

As you can read in the above, Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has a lot to say about art, more than I was willing to type. The three dots mean that there were more meanings mostly to do with artifice etc. And then Mr. Webster defines Journal and in the definition used the word diary – which he also defines. The highlighting is my own.

There are as many different expressions of ‘Art Journaling” out there as there are ‘Art Journalers.’ I have taken a few (art journal) classes where there is nothing written or only one word (usually dream or believe) that is then illustrated. Then I have taken classes where there were only words, with funny fonts or embellishments. My art journaling has words, illustrations, collaging and paint! My definition – my name is close to Webster – comes down to:

Art Journaling v. The act of making a daily record of the artist’s experiences, feelings, lessons and expressions.

Art Journal n. A book for keeping a daily record of the artist’s experiences, feelings, lessons and expressions.

Art Journaling fits my life like a glove and I love it. I have book after book of pages. Pages that are the art itself and pages that have spaces left just for writing in at some other date. Being self-taught I am always experimenting with techniques I have read about. Often I don’t care for the result. When I try something out on a page-sized paper and it doesn’t do what I think it should, I can just turn the page and try again.

Another thing about art journaling is that it can be done in ten-minute (or 20, 30 etc) increments and be very satisfying. No matter what the reason, we usually do not have hours and hours to sit around with a pen or a paint brush. When I have a few minutes, even if I am not feeling artistic, I can always do a little something to a page. I always have more than one set of pages in the works.

As the pages add up the growth of the skill is obvious and progress can be seen. Progress more as progression…